We didn’t let Poonch militants escape: Indian Army

January 10th, 2009 - 10:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Jan 10 (IANS) The Indian Army Saturday denied reports it had provided safe passage to militants hiding in the Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir in exchange for the release of some abducted security personnel during the eight-day operation against them.”It is just fiction, a total lie with no truth whatsoever in it,” a senior officer at the 16 Corps headquarters at Nagrota, told IANS.

“Spreading such reports is not only detrimental to the army’s cause but goes against national interest,” he added

The officer was reacting to reports from Mendhar, where the operation took place, that the “militants had been given safe passage in exchange for the release of some security personnel abducted by militants holed up in the forest”.

The army Saturday said they were still on the trail of the militants though they had called off the operation in the dense forest near Mendhar in Poonch Thursday night.

The army maintained the militants escaped the three-tier security cordon “taking advantage of terrain and bad weather”.

An army official said, “The militants might have escaped this area (Pati Tar) but we have gathered tell-tale signs and are very much on their trail.”

“Hardcore militants” of the Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba were reported to be hiding in the Mendhar forest. The army began its operation to flush out the terrorists Jan 1.

The army had said that seven people, including four militants and three security personnel, were killed during fighting in the first three days. But the army has not recovered the bodies of the killed militants till now.

The area in Mendhar is on the map of traditional infiltration routes of militants sneaking into the Indian side from Pakistan across the Line of Control. It has accessibility to the Kashmir Valley through mountain passes.

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